Navigating Coronavirus: State-wide cancellations from growing COVID-19 pandemic

[Editor’s Note: This is an evolving situation. This article was written prior to the initial March 12 state-ordered Montgomery County school shutdown.]

Because of the vastly spreading Coronavirus, Souderton Area School District cancelled all after school and public events on March 10 for the next two weeks. The cancellations came after advice from the Montgomery County Health Department.
According to assistant principal Matt Haines the decision was within the guidelines of the county. “The most recent guideline that came out for schools was to social distance, which is not a bad thing,” Haines said. “With that, specifically they said we should be cancelling events where we are inviting large groups from outside the school community in, as a preventative measure.”
Some events that were cancelled were the high school’s Art & Soul Festival, elementary Lip Sync performances, and any event that would be bringing in large groups from outside the school.
Art & Soul Festival advisor Sandy Campagna is disappointed the event was cancelled.
“The students and members have been extremely disappointed, because they put so much effort out, and at this point, we were told that it may not be able to be rescheduled,” Campagna said.
Campagna does “respect” the decision because it is a dangerous situation.
Director of Pupil Services Megan Zweiback has been working closely with nursing and custodial staff in order to prepare for the rising COVID-19 outbreak.
“We began talking about the spread of this virus and this was around the time when one of the first cases was being seen out in Seattle,” Zweiback said. “We started to think, this is heading our way at some point and we need to start preparing.”
The district has also purchased several new cleaning agents over the past few weeks. This includes BioBlaster, which is 99.95% effective in cleaning all types of viruses.
“Our custodial staff has been diligent in wiping down high contact areas, every night, every desk, chair, pencil sharpener, anything [the students] might be touching is being wiped down with a cleaning agent,” Haines said.
Second Grader Reese Yeakel believes her teachers have done a good job helping clean and teaching her about the new virus.
“Every day at bus time [my teacher] gives us wipes and we clean our desks. We clean tables, and flexible seating chairs and desks. Some other classes have been cleaning the iPads and computers in their rooms, too,” Yeakel said.
Yeakel had her Lip Sync event cancelled as well as the Art Goes to School event scheduled to be held Indian Valley Public Library on March 12.
“I was a part of lip sync and I was a part of Art Goes to School. I was really excited because I like being on stage,” Yeakel said.
Both Haines and Zweiback said future protective measures would be to cancel school, but they are doing what they can to avoid that.
“Letting people know we have a plan, kids are safe here, and that we want parents to feel comfortable sending their students to school,” Zweiback said is one of the district’s biggest priorities. “We want to communicate, but not overly communicate and concern people.”
Haines said the district is not in favor of school closures unless there are guidelines from the state or county.
*Update: Since this article was written, Governor Tom Wolf has cancelled school in Pennsylvania indefinitely.